I haven’t done one of these for a while. I’m in the process of buying a house, it turns out that takes up a lot of time. Who knew?
I’ve been thinking a lot about perfection this week. One of the people on my team really struggles with getting things done. For him, if a task isn’t done right it’s not worth doing at all.
I’ve always thought the opposite. That the first draft of an article, the first model you build, the first idea you have, will always be terrible. You refine the idea from there. Sometimes, it’s the act of getting down the piece of shit idea that helps you create the good idea you end up making later on.
I took a painter + decorator class this week, and that’s the advice that our teacher gave us.
“When you’re painting a line at the top of the wall, near the ceiling, always dab a bit of paint lower down the wall to start. Draw a bad line down there, where it doesn’t matter. It’ll get it out of your system when you go to draw the line that actually matters.”
Now, everywhere I look, I see the same advice across different industries.
In a recent issue of The New Yorker I read about how the actor Bill Hader “dreaded performing live on SNL”.
A few years in, he began deliberately “blowing” his first line of dialogue. He said, “that it would relax me realising, after my brain panicked, that no-one even noticed.”
And in an old Fast Company article about public speaking:
At the start of any speech or presentation, pause for a moment longer than necessary. The pause draws your audience in because they’re afraid you’re nervous, that they might be about to witness a fuck-up.
And nobody wants to see that. It’s uncomfortable and awkward.
So then when you continue talking with confidence your audience is relaxed. As if their presence has ensured your speech will be good.
Dance like nobody’s watching.